The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

Name: Leo Spicer-Phelps Firm: Cooley LLP Location: London University: University of Nottingham Degree: Politics

For budding lawyers, Leo suggests that one characteristic is key and that is enthusiasm: “You really have to be genuinely enthusiastic about what you do. Try and work out what sectors you are most interested in and what you enjoy most at law school or university – whether that be mooting or negotiation workshops – and then try and find something which incorporates those elements. Then you can target in on firms that publicly manifest an interest in that sector or area. Firms want to see applicants with enthusiasm in a given field, two lawyers working together will have an infinitely better relationship if they are both interested and passionate about the work they are doing.” Aside from enthusiasm, Leo is keen to stress the fact that the route to becoming a successful solicitor is varied and that it is an incredibly diverse career: “My job and profession is too varied for an easy one-size- fits-all piece of advice. Not all solicitors are the same and you can really carve out a niche and make your own path. When firms look for entrepreneurial individuals, what they really want is someone who can take the initiative, identify what they enjoy and carve out their own path within and without the firm.”

tech brand that is looking to acquire a key player in a disruptive technology.

However, this perpetually changing market means that tech solicitors must be readily available and as Leo advises, this can be difficult to get a handle on: “There is a need to ensure you integrate your work and life in a sustainable way. In a world where we are expected respond to clients immediately, this needs to be factored in to how you do your job. However, this becomes more manageable if you can effectively find a way to blend the two and strike a balance.” Looking at the state of the profession generally, Leo has concerns that solicitors are falling behind when it comes to accurately reflecting the community at large and this is something that needs to be addressed: “There is a real need to ensure that we meet the moral and business imperative to be representative of our clients, as well as the wider society and nation in which we live. Across the legal profession, our clients are, generally speaking, way ahead of us and we should take equivalent steps to ensure diversity and inclusiveness occurs across the legal world.” The question of AI Looking specifically at the tech sector, Leo’s passion is palpable when he ponders the conundrum of how governments must work out how to regulate evolving and future technology: “The regulatory framework for the world of tech is not moving fast enough, take artificial intelligence (AI) for example, how will they regulate it? There must be some point where a self-driving car has to make a decision between injuring the driver of the car or injuring a third party on the street. Is there a regulatory framework that coders would follow in creating the code which makes that decision? They are really behind the regulatory curve when it comes to the development of AI.”


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